Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dumb Quote of the Day

This was the quotation in my Google "Quote of the Day" box today:

If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.
- G. K. Chesterton

This seems like an immensely stupid thing to say. I hadn't heard of Chesterton, so I looked him up. Looks like he was a Christian apologist, so this quote probably actually means what it sounds like.

If this works for god, then does it work for everything?

If there were no Santa Claus, then there would be no people who don't believe in Santa Claus.

If the earth were not flat, then there would be no people who didn't think it was flat.

He's basically saying in a roundabout way that because there are people who don't believe in a thing, that thing must exist. In this case, because there are atheists, god exists.

Think about that next time you claim that something doesn't exist (like unicorns, Zeus, or pixie dust). According to Chesterton's little barb, you're actually affirming its existence by saying it doesn't exist.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chesterton's quote goes much deeper then you think. Chesterton was very much what you claim to be. A man who thinks for a profession. To see how deep his quote is and how deep a thinker he was try reading some of what he wrote.

FYI: Its not all apologetics.

Start here: http://chesterton.org/

Derek James said...

If his quotation is much deeper than my explanation, by all means expound. What are these untapped depths I'm missing out on?

byronfrombyron said...

Mr. James,

Why should we expound on the quote when you have not shown the wherewithal to do the research required to properly critique it? Your entry clearly shows that you have not looked at its context, and are just taking an individual statement. You would expect the same from a Christian critiquing the work of an atheist; please show us reciprocal courtesy, even in your disagreement.

Anonymous said...

G. K. Chesterton was outspoken in his defense of what he believed in, but he was invariably fair and courteous to his opponents -- which can hardly be said of Mr. James.

As a Christian, Chesterton believed in a God who was the ultimate source of all that exists. Mr. James dissents from that claim, as is his right. But if the premise is granted, it follows that God created atheists. The major premise can be denied, but the syllogism is perfectly sound.

Chesterton is not claiming that the denial of a thing's existence constitutes a proof that it exists. And the reason, Mr. James, that it doesn't "work for everything" is quite simple -- nobody posits Santa Claus or unicorns as the ultimate source of being. Even an atheist ought to recognize that the "God hypothesis" differs -- as an ontological claim -- from the "Santa Claus hypothesis."

Mr. James's silly misconstruction of a perfectly transparent statement is ... I was about to say "sophomoric," but I think most sophomores are above the level of such sophistry.

Philip said...

But if the premise is granted, it follows that God created atheists. The major premise can be denied, but the syllogism is perfectly sound.

If the premise is granted ... what premise? The premise that there's a God?

If I'm following you, if I grant the premise that God exists, then your syllogism of "without God, atheists would not exist" is sound. It might be sound, but it's completely pointless. You could substitute anything for "atheist" and make the same statement. If you grant my premise that the earth is a disk seated on the back of a giant turtle, then it is safe for mt to say "the earth could not exist without the giant turtle". I hope we can both agree it's a silly thing to believe, and an assertion without

And the reason, Mr. James, that it doesn't "work for everything" is quite simple -- nobody posits Santa Claus or unicorns as the ultimate source of being.

Ha! So, if I claim Santa breathed the universe into existence, his existence becomes more plausible?

Even an atheist ought to recognize that the "God hypothesis" differs -- as an ontological claim -- from the "Santa Claus hypothesis."

Yes, it's even more outlandish.